University of Kansas, Spring 2007
Philosophy 820: Topics in the History of Philosophy

Mill’s Practical Philosophy

Description: An examination of the moral, political, and social philosophy of John Stuart Mill. Works to be studied in depth include Utilitarianism, On Liberty, and The Subjection of Women. Some attention will also be given to Mill’s works on political economy and representative government, and to complementary writings of Harriet Taylor Mill.

Class schedule: Tuesdays, 2:30–4:20, in 3097 Wescoe Hall


Here are the factors that will determine your overall grade, and their weights (in percentages):

assignment weight
1. term paper 60
2. presentation 30
3. class participation 10
total 100

Further information about these assignments will be provided as the course progresses, but here are the basic requirements:

  1. Your term paper should be about 15–20 pages long (or in the range of 4,500–6,000 words), and should be the kind of thing a responsible philosopher working in this area might submit for publication in a reputable journal: it should offer an original contribution to the discussion of some important philosophical issue or text having to do with the practical philosophy of John Stuart Mill, building (where relevant) on prior significant work on its topic.
  2. Your presentation should be based on a paper you write of not more than 1,000 words, which you can just read out loud; you should circulate your paper to everyone in the class (including the instructors) at least 24 hours in advance of your presentation. Your paper should critically comment and possibly imaginatively enlarge on the assigned reading for the day. After you present your paper, questions and discussion will ensue. You will be graded on the quality of your paper and the quality of your responses to questions and comments about it.
  3. Good class participation consists of offering intelligent, relevant, and helpful comments and questions. You should be an active discussant and should feel free to introduce your own perspective and concerns into the discussion; at the same time, however, you should not think that more participation is always better. Ideal class participation involves not only being willing and able to contribute; it also involves being respectful of others’ time and interests, and being sensitive to those occasions when a particular topic or thread would be more appropriately pursued outside of class.
Books to buy:
Course materials on the web:

Course documents, including this syllabus, will be available on the web site for the course, the URL of which is

(If you don’t want to type in this whole thing, you can stop after ‘utile’—at which point you’ll be at Professor Eggleston’s personal web site—and then follow the links to the web site for this particular course.)

The syllabus is one of the pages at the above site, and since it will be revised and elaborated as the course progresses, we encourage you to check it online from time to time, instead of relying on a hard copy.

Office hours:

Naturally, both of us are available and happy to talk with you outside of class.

Office: 3051 Wescoe (and 213E Bailey—Women’s Studies)
Phone: 4-2326 (4-2311)
Hours: Wednesdays, 1:30–3:30

Office: 3070 Wescoe Hall
Phone: 4-2332
Hours: Tuesdays, 1:30–2:20, and Wednesdays, 11–11:50


January 23:

January 30:

February 6:

February 13:

February 20:

February 27:

March 6:

March 13:

March 20: no class (spring break)

March 26–27: campus visit by Wendy Donner

April 3: no class (instructors at Pacific Division meeting of the APA)

April 10:

April 17

April 24:

April 30–May 1: campus visit by Dale Miller

May 8: